Death metal is such an over-saturated genre, even the sub-genres and sub-sub-genres have millions of sound-alike bands, all desperate to prove that there is something unique about them, something which separates them from the other growling, gargling, detuned lunatics. In truth, originality is very often a moot point when reviewing death metal albums, including this; the third offering from Danish death devotees Crocell.
Crocell tread an extremely familiar path; the gut-crunching, riff heavy, down-tuned mauling of neighbouring Scandinavian bands such as Amon Amarth, combined with the rawer, more aggressive pummelling of fellow countrymen Exmortem et al. It is definitely something that you’ve heard before – however, Crocell have quite a few interesting weapons in their arsenal.
For a start, the album is perfectly produced for this kind of music. All instruments and vocals are absolutely crushing, yet clear as a bell. The guitars have that deep, bowel-loosening sound that we love, and seem massive, like vast chunks of stone falling on you from a great height. The drums are extremely polished, and every blast is precise and perfectly formed. The boys also have a fair degree of creative talent, and within each song are some real song writing gems.
Pounding yet catchy riffs are juxtaposed with some vicious brutality, and the occasional hint of grim, atmospheric black metal thrown into the mix. It’s almost like a pastiche of extreme metal from Scandinavia; one minute you will hear Amon Amarth’s epic heaviness, the next some crushing Grave-type riffs, and then a blast of pure dark evil, courtesy of Necrophobic. There are also many eerie, atmosphere drenched moments, which proves beyond doubt that Crocell are about more than mere death metal by numbers.
Not all the songs are real winners, but there are moments within each song which induce frenzied headbanging/grim-faced nodding/horn throwing. Each song is well crafted and flows quite naturally, without being either too simplistic, or too meandering, and this is the bands main talent. In a sea of mediocrity, Crocell rise above it due to the strength of their writing. There is a lot of promise displayed in this album; the next one might be a real stormer. In the meantime, this album is a good, well-written Scandinavian death metal album, with all the aspects fans of the genre would expect.
(7/10 Jonathan Butlin)